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Iridium To Launch Final Batch Of NEXT Satellites

Published: Monday, January 7, 2019 - 6:56pm
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The final batch of Iridium NEXT satellites will soon launch, completing a two-year upgrade to the company's network.

The launch caps a decades-long trajectory for the company from misfire to takeoff.

By the time Motorola finished deploying its Phoenix-built Iridium satellites in 1998, the $5 billion project was already outmoded, a victim of the cellular sea change Motorola itself helped bring about.

But the vast and complex mesh network, which solves line-of-sight problems by letting satellites pass signals around, was too useful to let die.

Following a government contract, a bankruptcy and a fire-sale buyout, a leaner Iridium spun off into what "Wired" magazine called the "first pan-national corporation."

Today its client sectors include commercial tracking, defense and the Internet of Things.